Somebody’s Somebody

Shadow SomebodyIt’s easier to see Morgan as the teenager he is when we get out into The World. Out there, for better or worse, he’s beyond my minute-by-minute influence. He can project whatever persona he wants. He can be Morgan. Not Susan’s son. I know the feeling. We’re all somebody’s somebody.

Yesterday I ventured out to my first Teen activity that Bill and Morgan have already attended. Laser tag and Chuck E. Cheese were too much visual stimulation for me. Besides, Bill told me I couldn’t go. “You’ll just come home in a bad mood.” He’s probably right. But a game day at the coordinator’s home seemed safe enough.

When I first got there, it was all women of all ages sitting on all the sofas. I wasn’t sure who were the mothers and who were the daughters. Morgan took off with the two other boys. I managed to cull the herd using M’s Creepy Crawlers maker. Most of the daughters were lured to the dining room and given my one-minute bug-baking lesson. The sulker stayed seated besides her mother. I know that feeling, too.

Every once in awhile, I’d go to the door of the den where the boys and a few of the older girls were playing PS2/3 videogames. I’d always pretend to “knock-knock-knock” and not violate their space. Once, to give Morgan the camera and remind him to take movies. The other time to ask the teens what they’d like to do in March. (The moms kept trying to come up with ideas among themselves. I announced I’d go ask. A seemingly simple solution.)

Each time, Morgan was one among many. Still a standout. But not a stand-alone. Once he was digitally recording a three-year-old Guitar Hero. The other time, he was cracking up his youthful audience as he repeatedly shot his faithful yet virtual steed. Always cracking wise. Trying to impress the girls…Where do you think he gets it?

A Good Example is a Bad One

smokeCN8054After watching the near-perfect In the Heat of the Night (1967) with Sidney Poitier and Rod Steiger, I hung in for its not-so-perfect sequel, They Call Me Mr. Tibbs! (A lot transpired in Amerikkka in those three years.) I remembered the crime story aspect, (the preacher, Martin Landau, did it) but I was more intrigued with the relationship between Tibbs and his wise-ass tween son.

In one scene, the father catches his son smoking a cigarette in their garden shed, and then takes him inside to share cigars and liquor. As Tibbs wastes his breathe explaining the value of hard work and being the best (his son prefers being “second-smartest” in his class so all the kids don’t hate him), on clue, the kid gets sick. Man, could they even portray that scenario in a movie these days? Murdering a kid with a machete is one thing, killing him with tobacco and booze is something else.

When we found out Morgan had been caught smoking cigarettes with Austin this summer, I never considered giving him a pack. Problem is, he’d puff past the nausea and then he’d want a case of Marlboros. I explained that ultimately I couldn’t keep him from any bad habit, but since he’s only 13, it’s my job to try.

Sooner or later, he WILL try cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, sex and who knows what other reckless, fun stuff. And that was the point I wanted to make with Morgan—we all develop behaviors, habits and addictions that could kill us—physically, emotionally or financially. And when I concluded my cautionary tale, he never questioned how I knew those things. Maybe he knows better. Because when he does ask, I’m gonna tell him, straight up.

Sometimes the best example I can be for my kids is a bad one.